This river is home to the unique shoal bass. When fishing for shoal bass, follow the same bag and minimum size regulations as those listed for other black bass such as largemouth bass. The Chipola River is accessible in Marianna off CR 280 (Magnolia Rd), Peacock Bridge Rd (located north of Sink Creek), SR 274 west of Altha on Hamilton Spring Rd, and SR 20 at Clarksville. This very scenic, spring-fed coldwater river stretches about 95 miles starting just north of Marianna and running south through the Dead Lake and into the Apalachicola River. The Chipola River has fast water shoals and provides excellent sunfish (redbreast, redear and bluegill) fishing in the spring depending on the water level. Boat operators should be cautious of these shallow limestone shoals while running your boat in this river during low water.
Local information on these rivers and their fishes may be obtained from the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, Northwest Regional Office (850-265-3676).
Anglers should always be mindful of the rocky limestone shoals and snags in the river. The river is still low and travel upstream through shallow, swift shoals may be impossible so anglers should plan accordingly. View daily river levels and flow.
The Chipola River should be low during the fall and the fish should be very active. Daily river levels and flow can be found here. The Chipola River is the best river in Florida to target Shoal Bass and sampling results indicate good number of larger individuals. For those anglers targeting shoal bass try fishing in, above, and below shoal areas between Magnolia Bridge and Johnny Boy landing. The best baits for shoal bass are artificial baits that mimic crayfish, like small crankbaits and plastic creature baits. Catch-and-release is recommended for this unique fish species which falls under the same regulations as the largemouth bass. Shoal bass are typically found in rocky areas with fast moving water while largemouth bass are often found in slower moving water and near woody structures. Anglers should always be mindful of the rocky limestone shoals and snags in the river. Anglers should be cautious as log jams and other navigational hazards may have changed.
Largemouth bass can also be found in these areas, but are more concentrated below Highway 20 or in deeper sandy pools around snags. Largemouth can be caught using the same baits as shoal bass. Redbreast sunfish, bluegill and stumpknockers (spotted sunfish) can also be found in these areas and can be caught using 1/16oz beetle spins and/ or worms; they will also be caught on small crayfish lures. Fly fisherman should fish early morning or late afternoon for bass and bream (bluegill, spotted sunfish, and redear sunfish). Try a “popper-dropper” combination around areas of slow moving current.